(b. 1553, Valladolid, d. 1608, Madrid)

Duke of Lerma

Oil on canvas
Fundación Lerma, Toledo

When Philip III ascended the Spanish throne, his portraitist was awaiting him, Juan Pantoja de la Cruz, who had been appointed royal painter in the final years of Philip II's reign. Pantoja's early career is not well documented, but it is known that he was born in Valladolid in 1553 and studied with Sanchez Coello, whose path as a portraitist he scrupulously followed at the start of his career. However, in his later years, he enriched his style by absorbing new ideas from contemporary Flemish painters, including Rubens. Pantoja's portraits of the duke and duchess of Lerma are painted in a freer technique and endow the sitters with greater psychological vitality than is found in the implacable portraits of Sanchez Coello.